10 Hiker Qualities Coming in Super Handy Right Now
The surprising ways that being a hiker has helped prepare us for a stay-at-home lifestyle.
It's day whatever-it-is-now of staying home and staying safe, and while we might have lost track of time, it's easy to see how hiking has helped us out in this unique time in our lives. Here are 10 ways that being a hiker is making staying at home and social distancing a little easier.
Hikers are adaptable, and our current situation certainly requires that trait. You've got a backup plan for the backup plan, and when something happens it doesn't get you down—you figure out how to solve it. Closed trail? No problem; you’ve got a plan B. Pika chewing a hole through your hiking boots? No problem; you’ve got duct tape. Times like now are no different, and your flexibility will help you tackle the challenges that come with our changing times.
Going the distance is the name of the game whether you're out in the backcountry or hunkering down for some good ol' fashioned social distancing. Endurance helps us get through the tough times, those uphill stretches of switchbacks that never seem to end. That is, until you emerge into that alpine meadow with birds chirping and the wild call of an angry marmot echoes out from somewhere near you in the underbrush. That's when you realize that your endurance made that moment possible. We can’t promise alpine meadows, but it’s good to know we’ve got the mettle to do our part. Hang in there!
3. Living in small spaces
Just like crawling into your tent at night, our current situation requires us to make the most of our homes, and for some of us (cough, definitely not me, cough), that might mean somewhere smaller than we'd prefer to be in for extended periods of time. But the good news is, since you've spent nights smashed up against a condensation-laden tent wall, you're used to this.
4. Tolerance for eating weird things
We've all been there. Things have gotten desperate and you reach into your backpack to find a smashed granola bar, two saltine crackers, and a messy pulp of something that might be berries but you're not entirely sure since the trail mix bag broke and spilled into the jerky. Given that we can handle all sorts of odd trail creations, it's really not a stretch to think we can handle a bit of odd cooking at home when stores or inspiration run low on our favorites.
5. kindness to each other
From trail angels to giving directions to the trailhead, to lending some hiking poles, hikers are some of the friendliest and kindest people out there. In a time when we're all needing a bit more kindness in a our lives, we're equipped to lend a hand where it's needed.
"If I make it up these switchbacks I'll treat myself to a milkshake on the way home..." Sound familiar? Hikers are amazing at bartering, and usually with ourselves (though I have seen some epic trail mix deals take place) or the hikers we’re trying to bribe just over the next rise. This situation's really no different. When we get through this, treat yourself to an amazing hike, why don't you?
7. appreciating the little things
Social distancing might be reducing our ability to get out into expansive views, but one thing it's helping with is letting us appreciate the small things in our lives. Maybe it's the towering pine tree on the corner you've never noticed, or the patch of flowers blooming in the garden. Whatever it might be for you, embracing the change and enjoying the small things is a quality that hikers certainly possess.
8. excellent research skills
Finding directions to the trailhead, how long the trail is, and how much elevation gain to expect are all research skills that a hiker needs in order to be prepared for their next adventure (hey, i know a website that might help with all that...). Times right now aren't all that different. You can flex those same muscles (and count on WTA to help) to find out what's closed or open, what best practices To keep each other safe, or maybe just planning your next hike for when we can get out on trail again.
Duct tape and a ball of twine never look the same to a hiker once they've been caught in a downpour with a torn tent roof. Kind of like how that cardboard box and tinfoil don't look the same to my cat after I dressed up like a robot for her and pretended to be her new caretaker. But outside of traumatizing my cat, ingenuity and a bit of resourcefulness go a long way when we're staying at home and trying to find a way to keep ourselves entertained. Hikers are some of the most ingenious people out there, so there's little doubt we'll find a way to stay busy and solve problems.
10. risk management
Hikers work hard to avoid getting stuck on a mountain peak with an injury, waiting for search and rescue. All those smart decisions you regularly make on trail to keep your friends (and the strangers who would have to rescue you) safe suddenly feel very relevant in everyday life. As hikers, we’re prepared to recognize risk and how to manage or mitigate it. We may be more used to using those skills at a dicey river crossings, but the habit of keeping yourself (and others!) safe is second nature to most hikers!
Have you found your hiking life has prepared you for this moment in other ways? Tell us how.